At Seton Hall Law, (nearly) million-dollar mess — and search for new dean

Seton Hall University officials are trying to move forward after announcing Wednesday the details of an investigation into a long-running financial impropriety scheme that resulted in a near million-dollar theft from the law school.

Seton Hall officials said the appropriate government and higher education entities have been notified, and the school will fully assist with any requests for assistance or additional information.

They also said the school is reviewing and implementing additional recommended financial safeguards and internal controls to reduce the likelihood of similar incidents to the greatest extent possible.

Then there’s this: The law school is launching a search for a new dean.

Kathleen Boozang.

Longtime Dean Kathleen Boozang announced this fall that she is stepping down from the position — and will head to Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center, where she will serve as a visiting professor in the spring of 2023.

Boozang and school officials said her departure has nothing to do with the theft — and that she will return to the school as a professor, perhaps as early as the summer of 2023. Kip Cornwell is serving as interim dean.

Seton Hall President Jospeh Nyre and board Chair Kevin Marino on Wednesday said the school and the law school will attempt to move ahead.

“The recently completed review process has been difficult for all involved — particularly, the law school’s devoted and hardworking faculty, students, staff and administrators,” they said. “We are grateful for their perseverance in the face of the challenges that accompanied this comprehensive review.

“Under the direction of interim Dean Kip Cornwell, the school will emerge stronger and fully prepared to move onward and upward in 2023.”

In their statement, Nyre and Marino said the school acknowledged that employees of the law school had “misappropriated funds of the school in excess of $975,000.”

Nyre and Marino said, “A small number of trusted, longtime employees of Seton Hall Law engaged in a series of schemes and improprieties designed to enrich themselves at the expense of the school community.”

The school publicly reported that there was a problem in September, when a review of financial policies, procedures and compliance initiated by the recently hired chief financial officer, Donna McMonagle, and the university’s Division of Finance discovered irregular transactions within a law school administrative unit.

At the time, the school said a further review of the law school would be conducted by the university and third-party auditors, in compliance with established school rules. That review process is now complete, closing the formal analysis of the school’s finances, school officials said.